Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Weathervane

In the back of each of three
wagons a steel eye rod

each with a chain, each with
one member of a family

standing together now
for the last time, each

wagon pointed in three
directions of the compass.

The young white man
at the fourth watches

the father loaded up bodily
by a mob and when attached

firmly yanks so continuously
against the anchor and chain

he breaks his arm at the shackle
and the mother meanwhile

remembers her finest day
long ago fallen from her body

like a veil while her new
owner leers at what is left,

and the child meanwhile inside
her sixth year of breathing

the air and thinking appears
to Lincoln watching her exactly

like his sister on the day she died—
the very opposite of paralyzed,

her face contorted by tears.
Now Giddyup the drivers say

and the horses flicker their ears.
When the wagons are gone

there is only one point left
to the compass and that is a man

one day endowed by the people
and not by god who is pure loss

anyways in this study of Lincoln
for a weathervane and a lightning rod.


Note: The weathervane is made of iron and resides in the Abelard Folk Art Museum in Brooklyn, New York. The Lincoln figure (North) is the least detailed. The Mother (East), the Father (West), and the Girl (South) are each cast with amazing detail, especially in their faces. They each ride in a small iron wagon pulled by an iron horse. The vane was made in New Orleans in the 1860s during the Union occupation under General Butler. The maker is unknown. The vane stood on the crown of the Fisk School for Boys, which Louis Armstrong attended as a child. It is considered a masterwork of American blacksmithing.

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